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Topics - pocock

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General CPU Discussion / max memory speeds
« on: July 31, 2020, 03:46:40 pm »

AbstractConcept made this edit in the wiki

I read somewhere that RAM operates at different speeds:

1 channel filled: 2666MHz

2 channels filled: 2400MHz

4 channels filled: 2133MHz

but the edit by AbstractConcept implies that RAM is always clocked at 2666MHz

Can anybody clarify?

General CPU Discussion / v2 CPU availability?
« on: July 29, 2020, 11:25:49 am »

I notice that Raptor is only offering the 4 core and 8 core version of the v2 (stepping DD2.3) chips.  The 22 core chip is only available in v1.

Is there any reason for this?

I decided to order the 8 core v2 CPUs with the intention that I will use them on a dual-CPU board until the 22 core v2.3 CPU is available.  Then I could move the 8 core CPUs onto Talos II Lite boards and upgrade to 22 core v2.3 chips on my primary workstation.

I've had some discussions with other developers about the POWER9 platform and one observation I've made is that people are looking at a choice between Talos II Lite or Blackbird.  Many don't need a dual CPU system and can't afford the full Talos II.

To iron out bugs in software, it is really vital to have a critical mass of developers using the platform and I suspect most of them are going to use either Talos II Lite or Blackbird.  When they narrow their choice down to those products, the next thing that comes to mind is: what should they put in the PCIe slots to get best use out of their workstation?

The wiki contains a large list of compatible products but what I'm really thinking about here is making a shortlist of five to ten really interesting products and putting them on the comparison page

Here is a summary of the problem:
  • most people will want to put a GPU in the x16 slot - some GPUs, like the Radeon Pro W5700 throw in a USB-C socket or some other bonus which is really useful on a system like this with limited expansion slots
  • with the x8 slot, most people will probably want a card that can give them some combination of SSDs (U.2 NVMe), legacy SATA disks and hopefully some other ports like OCuLink or ethernet on the same board as a bonus.  Can anybody comment on which boards are optimal in this scenario?

Some other permutations come to mind: for example, people who don't do a lot of graphics may be happy with a GPU in the x8 slot and use the x16 slot for OCuLink.  Hopefully we will also see some external OCuLink GPUs in the future but none seem to be available right now.

Feel free to add comments here or at the bottom of this wiki page

Many academic institutions around the world have special requirements for the storage of confidential human subject research data.

For example, a private company like Facebook can profile their users and there is little control on that.  But when a team in a university conducts a study on the same human subjects, they have to go to their Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval.

Each time they start a new study, they have to approach the IRB and submit a plan.  The IRB can ask about their data storage and processing strategy.

This appears to be a use case where legislation introduced decades before modern spyware forces them to look for best practice.  With each new generation of technologies like Intel ME, the OpenPOWER and similar platforms become more compelling for this type of user.

Has anybody already tried to pitch these solutions in that environment?

General OpenPOWER Discussion / hosting requirements and strategies
« on: July 21, 2020, 11:38:18 am »

Can anybody comment on ideas or case studies for hosting with the Talos II platform?

For example:

What type of workloads is it most suitable for, or how would you build a Talos II-based rack mount system for different types of workloads?

Many hosting companies sell space by full rack, half rack, quarter rack (approximately) - how would you fit out one of these spaces if you had a pure Talos II strategy, even using the platform for firewall and BGP perhaps?

The largest vendors can provide next day and sometimes same day replacement parts, worldwide.  How would you approximate this with RCS products?  One idea that comes to mind: keeping one or two "community" servers in each rack for developers to log in and run tests, running Jenkins (a.k.a. travis-ci for POWER9) on the understanding that these servers can be scavanged on short notice to resolve production outages.

Is there any interest in hosting here in Switzerland right now?

I wanted to make this world a little bit easier for other developers to buy in, so I'm making some contributions on the wiki, feedback or enhancements would also be welcome.

In particular, comparing different wiki pages during purchasing can be frustrating, so I've combined key facts in a single table on a single page but please feel free to correct it if you feel anything is not quite right there.

Blackbird / using bigger CPUs with some cores disabled on Blackbird?
« on: July 20, 2020, 06:50:51 am »

I started a separate thread about disabling cores in the CPUs in a Talos II

It occurred to me that disabling cores could be a way to reduce CPU power consumption on Blackbird, for example, if you have an 18 core CPU (which is not supported) and you use the operating system to disable 4 cores, leaving just 14 cores, does the power consumption fall within the supported range for the motherboard?

This is probably not a good way to design a new system but if somebody has a spare CPU and they want to temporarily use it in a Blackbird, maybe this would be a useful hack that will reduce the risk of unexpected behavior.

General OpenPOWER Discussion / forum sections for different regions?
« on: July 13, 2020, 01:05:59 pm »

Are there enough users here to have sections in the forum for specific regions and/or countries?

For example, advertising local events where OpenPOWER solutions will be on display or simply helping users find each other at local hackerspaces.

Applications and Porting / availability for porting work
« on: July 07, 2020, 08:59:09 am »

If there are any urgent porting issues that I could investigate and if anybody is willing to sponsor a few weeks of ad-hoc developer time like that then please get in touch with me.

I'm beginning to try and schedule work on a range of things for the period October - December 2020.

If funding (or other incentives) are available, I'd like to use some of that time to become more familiar with this platform as I believe it has an important role to play in the free software ecosystem.

If anybody can suggest high-priority issues in the hope that somebody else will fund the work please feel free to comment here too.

Talos II / Using the ╬╝PCIe connector (J10108)
« on: June 17, 2020, 06:04:47 am »
The manual:

mentions a ╬╝PCIe connector (J10108)

How many lanes does it support?

Can anybody give any example of products that can be connected with this?  For example, can it be used with an M.2 or U.2 adapter for SSDs?


These are some of the links that appear most relevant:

NVIDIA forum, describes support for P100 on POWER8 and V100 on POWER9.

NVIDIA media release about collaboration with IBM on open source machine learning with Tesla V100

IBM pages about the same topic

The V100 products are rather expensive.

Nonetheless, some people have suggested that bits of the proprietary driver can be used to run other NVIDIA GPUs in a POWER system.  This thread might be a useful place to collect comments on topics like that.

Are there any packages that don't exist at all in Debian but would be essential or highly desirable on Debian systems?

Are there packages in unstable that are either not in the stable release or they require something from a newer version to be backported to stable to make them work on ppc64el?

Maybe these could be entered as RFP or Request-for-backport bugs in and then a usertag can be added to all of those so they can be found quickly.  This is an example of how arm64 bugs and package requests are tagged.

I'm willing to build packages or backports of the most important things that I will use myself but it would be helpful if people can point them out or enter any hints or concerns through the BTS.


Search engines return a lot of publicity about Microwatt but I couldn't see any practical examples of hardware and operating systems

Which FPGAs are people aiming for or testing right now?

Is it at the stage where somebody could build something vaguely similar to a Raspberry Pi, even if it lacks some of the ports?

Is it stable enough to run any GNU/Linux or BSD OS right now?


The RX 5700 came out last year and it was followed 6 months later by the Pro version, specifically the Radeon Pro W5700.

The W5700 is basically double the price of the RX 5700.  From the perspective of a POWER user, is this worthwhile?

Summarizing some of the key differences in the Pro version:

- AMD is testing the hardware and drivers more thoroughly: but do they test on any POWER9 systems?

- AMD is releasing driver updates for the Pro cards on a regular schedule: do these bug fixes appear in the amdgpu release for Linux users just as quickly?

- the marketing material describes various features, such as the AMD Remote Workstation (use your GPU remotely from a laptop) but is that relevant for a Linux user?  The software they offer is proprietary, so there are a large percentage of people in this space who would not use it anyway and we also have free software alternatives

- the last significant benefit I could see: the overall design is less aggressive, slightly less power consumption and lower clockrates than other cards so even ignoring the questions about drivers, maybe it will last longer and be more stable

- some people justified the purchase of Radeon Pro products when they included ECC RAM but in the W5700, it is not ECC, it is the same as the RX 5700

I've got an open mind about this: for example, an OEM built RX 5700 that has liquid cooling and isn't overclocked may be more relevant to some people than the W5700.  But if AMD is regularly testing amdgpu with W5700 on POWER9 then that alone would make me feel they are investing in this architecture.

Applications and Porting / VP9 benchmarks: have they improved?
« on: June 05, 2020, 12:12:38 pm »

One of the top search results for VP9 benchmarks is this site where POWER9 is the slowest with 9.37 frames per second (less than real time).  Even the Intel i3 achieves 28.38 fps (better than real time).

Has this code been fixed and does anybody know how to get fresh results in that site?  I think it is very unfair to the platform when search engines show something like that if it is no longer valid.

On the other hand, if it is not fixed, has anybody proposed a bounty for working on it?  IBM is asking people to suggest issues that they will fund

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